A new album of metalband Virgin Steele, it’s always a whole chunk and this time it already started with the title. The follow-up to ‘The Black Light Bacchanalia’ (2010) is not a concept album in its purest form, although there is a clear link running through the entire eighty minute piece of music.
If you still wonder what to expect when hearing the term “Barbaric Romantic Metal”, the quintet combines the typical Manowar-like true metal attitude and sound with the sense of drama (and falsettoes) of King Diamond.
From the opening track Lucifer’s Hammer singer David Defeis proves the fact that the years haven’t gotten a hold of his screaming falsetto voice yet. Sometimes powerful, the next screetching like a little girl on the run from the monsters under her bed, he squeezes himself through every hook and change of pace, pushed forward by that eternal double bass drum.
The waltz tempoed Queen Of The Dead presses the speed way down. That gives me the opportunity to explain the “not a concept album in its purest form”-part: There’s no single story being told through the record. All songs do revolve around a common subject though. They all have something to do with relations. Not just common love relations between people, but also between different elements, animals and divine entities.
Black Sun – Black Mass is actually a re-recorded version of the song Black Mass from predecessor Exorcist and could be called a highlight in the long epos. As well as Persephone, with its romantic-symphonic first part with lots of free space for piano, until the guitars take over with some progressive riffing and solo parts with lots of pull-offs.
After that, the album unfortunately starts slopping away into “more of the same”. Songs such as We Disappear still manage to stick out of the rest. To me, it’s Defeis’ falsetto voice in particular that starts wearing off after a while. Instrumentally there’s not much off my socks-blowing anymore either. “It’s nice for a while, but not top notch throughout” is going through my mind upon hearing the last notes dying out.